Beng joins ‘Regatta de Esperanza’ PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 11:21

Mayor Beng Climaco yesterday morning joined several boatmen to formally open the Regatta de Esperanza, an activity spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Office in a bid to give hope to Zamboangueños whose lives have been affected by the Zamboanga Crisis.

“This is our way of assuring our Samal and Badjao residents that we respect their culture and we want to return as many of them as possible to their points of origin before the war,” she said.

According to the mayor, most of the participants in the regatta are internally displaced persons (IDPs) who lost their homes when members of the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) snuck into the city and used civilians as human shields in their attempt to raise their flag at city hall.

During the launch, the mayor was able to speak with Latip matriarch, Janila, who at 81 years old is still active in creating vinta sails called leha. The elder Latip was born in Rio Hondo and has been living in Sinunuc for the last 23 years passing the family traditions down to her grandchildren.

Formerly known as Regatta de Zamboanga that is usually held as part of the activities lined up for the city’s celebration of Fiesta Hermosa in October, the race was cancelled in direct result of the three-week long standoff between government forces and the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The Regatta de Esperanza, according to DOT Regional Director Mary June Bugante, was conceptualized during the 23-day siege to help rebuilding efforts and boost back tourism in the city.

The regatta will run until mid-January 2014. Under the instructions of the mayor, those who are interested may ride the vintas for free.

Also present during the launch were Commission on Higher Education Director Emmylou Yanga and Tzu Chi’s Anton Lim. — Claudine Uniana